Chicken Spätzle Soup

Spätzle SoupChicken Spätzle Soup

Take your favorite homemade chicken noodle soup and give it a hearty twist: substitute spätzle (little German dumplings) for packaged noodles.

Spätzle is fun to make, although it’s a little bit messy. It is certainly more work than dumping a bag of egg noodles into boiling water, but the end result is definitely worth the time and energy.

Made from wholesome ingredients including eggs, milk, and flour; you probably have everything on hand to make spätzle right now. The only thing missing would be a spätzle maker, an inexpensive gadget that cuts the batter into small knobs. Don’t fret though, you could easily use a colander with large holes and press the dough through with a spatula.

How To Make Spätzle

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The Port of Los Angeles Area Brunch Scene

The Port of Los Angeles Area Brunch SceneThe Port of Los Angeles Area Brunch Scene

Gone are those kitschy restaurants and funky shops that once lined the docks of the busiest port in the country. The entire Ports O’ Call Village was recently demolished…with bulldozers, and it was painfully traumatic for the locals. But it will be a good thing in the end (we hope) because by 2020 the old fish joints will be replaced by a mega development of glossy restaurants and high-end shops called the San Pedro Public Market.

In the meantime, here are five places to enjoy brunch now, perhaps while waiting for your cruise ship to sail from the iconic Port of Los Angeles.

Enjoy Brunch Now

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Custardy Cornbread with Honey Butter

Custardy Cornbread with Honey Butter

Custardy Cornbread with Honey Butter

I awoke to another zillion emails, but one really caught my eye. It was for New Year’s Day Cornbread from Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo, a specialty food company known for their glorious Heirloom Beans.

Sando wrote, “This recipe comes from my pal Taylor Boetticher of the Fatted Calf Charcuterie. If you’re in the Bay Area, try making your Black Eyed Peas with their bacon or other pork treats. The recipe is true Texas cornbread and it’s perfect with your pot of good fortune. A huge thanks to Taylor’s mother, Star Boetticher, for sharing the recipe and keeping good conditions alive.”

I headed off to the kitchen to preheat the oven. Baking with available ingredients, it turns out that I had to replace the whole milk with 1% milk, and swapped low fat plain Kefir for buttermilk …hoping it would work. And it did! This Cornbread is perfect even with my substitutions, no need to look for any other cornbread recipe, ever.

The cornbread was served with room-temperature salted butter that was blended with honey…and a pot of coffee. ‘Twas a delightful December breakfast. The custard layer is simply genius. For good fortune, I will make it again on New Year’s Day to be served with Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens (recipe now posted here).

Black Eyed Peas are eaten for luck, Collard Greens are symbolic of dollar bills, and Cornbread is symbolic of gold. And we will add a Glazed Spiral Cut Ham to the menu because pigs have long been a symbol of wealth and gluttony. Sounds delicious and lucky, can’t beat that. Here’s to a Prosperous New Year!

Boetticher Family Cornbread Recipe

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French Bistro Trout Amandine

French Bistro Trout Amandine

French Bistro Trout Amandine with Haricots Verts
Almonds, Dried Currants, Capers, Lemon, Browned Butter, Parsley

The back story for this dish started last summer when I received an email from Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant in Las Vegas regarding their Summer Scratch Off event. I wasn’t particularly interested in the event, but the image of the trout with fresh green beans really caught my eye. It looked so balanced and tasty, I saved it to my computer.

The restaurant describes itself as honoring classic French cuisine, serving traditional French gastronomy in a quaint Parisian bistro, devising fresh takes on classic fare.

On a recent a trip to Vegas, we had to have lunch at our favorite al fresco restaurant. Who can resist sitting outside on The Strip, watching the spectacular choreographed Bellagio water fountains accompanied by Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman singing Con Te Partiro? Not us, not ever. It is a rare visit to Vegas indeed, when we do not have breakfast or lunch at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas. On one trip a while back, I even purchased a set of their plates for my collection.

Bellagio Fountains
Fountains of Bellagio seen from Mon Ami Gabi
French Bistro Trout Amandine

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Palos Verdes Pastoral Outstanding Oaxacan Theme

Work with Lori Lynn

Palos Verdes Pastoral at Terranea Resort

Thirty years ago in 1988, our community chose sanctuary over sprawl and open land over bulldozers, and launched the Land Conservancy on a journey to preserve and restore open space on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Southern California.

Palos Verdes Pastoral is the Conservancy’s most important annual event, allowing it to raise support, funds, and awareness for the conservation and management of 1600 acres of permanently protected rare coastal habitat.

Pastoral is an enchanted fundraising dinner that brings people together amidst nature for an exclusive experience at Terranea Resort featuring the best of California handcrafted, organic, and sustainable foods.

This year Pastoral was inspired by the colorful state of Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s major gastronomic centers. It shares many native plant species with the Peninsula; those include lily, sunflower, coastal sage, and cactus. Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra, created a menu with foods sourced from local artisan ingredients and Terranea’s award-winning garden. The menu highlighted staples of Oaxacan cuisine such as squash flowers, sage, prickly pear cactus, dragonfruit, chocolate, and mezcal.

In addition to the camaraderie, gourmet foods, stellar wines, and ambiance that is truly second to none – the evening increases awareness of the important work of the Conservancy in protecting and stewarding our open space and nature. We celebrate the mission of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy to preserve land and restore habitat for the education and enjoyment of all.

Outstanding Oaxacan Cuisine at Terranea Resort

Preserving Land and Restoring Habitat

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Move Over Avocado Toast!

Fresh Pea and Ricotta Toasts

English Pea and Ricotta Toasts
Lodge Bread German Style Rye

Sometimes we want a different kind of toast for breakfast, especially when there are fabulous hand-shelled, sweet and tender, English peas available. So, no disrespect, but move over avocado, and make room for Fresh Pea and Ricotta Toasts.

Fresh sweet peas and crunchy pea shoots, fresh basil and mint, and lemony ricotta top an extraordinary German style rye by Lodge Bread.  This heavenly bread is bold and sturdy – made of 100% whole grain dark rye, buttermilk, local beer, sprouted rye berries, and filled with seeds – sesame, nigella, sunflower, pumpkin, and poppy.

Serve this breakfast with tea. English peas, and tea. Of course it’s lovely.

German Style Rye Bread

English Pea and Ricotta Toasts Recipe

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Cook The Cover

Cook The Cover

Veggie Broth, Crispy Tofu, Gai Lan
Watermelon Radish, Carrot, Bok Choy, Sesame Chili Oil

Have you received a copy of a food magazine in the mail with a cover photo that absolutely floors you? February 2018 Bon Appetit did that for me. There was no way that I wasn’t going to “Cook The Cover” and make that gorgeous Crispy Tofu in Shiitake Broth.

Alas, time passed and I didn’t make it. But, last Saturday’s trip to the Torrance Farmers Market gave me the inspiration…it came from a vegetarian Korean food booth called Dave’s Gourmet Korean Food with a sample of his hot “Vegee Broth.” It was amazing – complex flavors in a vegetarian broth made with fermented vegetable juice, sea salt, low sodium gluten-free soy sauce, and miso.

As I walked the market, watermelon radish and bok choy remembered from that February magazine cover ended up in my basket. I already had carrots and firm tofu at home.

One ingredient that is not in Bon Appetit’s recipe was beautiful Gai Lan, also known as Chinese broccoli. Slightly bitter and slightly sweet, with tasty broad leaves, petite buds, a few pretty white flowers, and tender stems – this had to be added to my version of the vegetable soup.

Here is the link to the original recipe by Bon Appetit, and my adaptations are listed below. Those in the Los Angeles area can find Dave’s Vegee Broth at various Farmers Markets across the county. If you are not in LA, simply follow the original broth recipe. It will take a little longer but be, no doubt, worth your time.

Veggie Broth, Crispy Tofu, Gai Lan Recipe

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